The aristocracy – never had a problem with it until I decided to write a short story about werewolves in high society. Now it turns out there’s a bit missing from my grammar playbook.
Do I write:
‘I’ll bring the car around, Ma’am.’
or is it:
‘I’ll bring the car around, ma’am.’
I was pretty sure it was the second one because I ran across a similar problem while I was writing the Quisling Orchid. The book has a lot of dialogue (as all good books seem to), and a lot of Nazis (not necessarily a requirement for a good book). In this case, I knew I should write:
‘And why did you feel the need to let her go, sargeant?’
Small ‘s’ for sargeant, so I figured it was the same for the aristocracy:
‘I’ll have him flogged, your ladyship.’
though I had this notion that maybe ‘ladyship’ needed a capital letter:
‘I’ll have him flogged, your Ladyship.’
And that just looks weird.
Time for a [insert your favourite search engine here] search, and one of the first results that came up was from Merethe Walther’s seriously excellent blog. This page covers every common capitalisation rule, and a couple I hadn’t thought of. Definitely worth a read if you’re not sure, and still worth a read if you’re absolutely positive you’re doing it right.